Council President Peter Gill has canceled a public informational forum on the water and sewer rates that he had scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Winthrop Middle School Auditorium.
Gill made the announcement during the Council meeting Tuesday night.
“Several weeks ago I scheduled the forum to be held on September 24 to allow citizen input about their concerns regarding their sewer and water bills,” said Gill. “My motivation as a candidate for re-election to have this public forum has been questioned.”
Gill would not reveal the individual or individuals who “questioned his motivation.” Gill said he would meet individually with “any Winthrop citizen to discuss their water bills.”
Jeffrey Turco, a candidate for town council president in the November 5 election, criticized Gill for canceling the forum.
“I think it’s absolutely shocking. It’s consistent with how the council president has addressed the water/sewer issue from Day 1,” said Turco following Tuesday’s meeting. “The ever-changing excuses for why the people of Winthrop have seen their rates skyrocket unjustifiably – he [Gill] promised the people weeks ago that he was going to have a forum and try to push the blame on to the MWRA when we put the facts out to the people to show that the MWRA is not the reason our water rates have gone up – it’s his failure of leadership.”
Turco said residents were looking forward to the opportunity to express their concerns about the water rates at the public forum.
“People were excited that they were finally going to have an opportunity to be heard and to have their questions asked in a public forum where it’s not the back-and-forth exchanges between him and me – not all of a sudden, ‘It’s we don’t care about the people, we’re going to do something on WCAT where they can’t call in and can’t have their voices heard, they can’t have their frustrations be resolved and frankly it’s a shameful action to shut the people out.”
Town Manager James McKenna said he would participate in a WCAT forum to discuss water rates. Gill indicated that he would not be making an appearance on the WCAT forum about water rates.
Gill and Turco will face off in the Nov. 5 election in a rematch of their exciting 2011 race for the presidency. The two candidates are scheduled to appear together on a WCAT Town Council President Debate on October 8.